December 14, 2017

A Coach’s Thoughts On His Terrible Race

The good and the bad of Coach Ben’s race at the Singapore Half Marathon.

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In my last post, I shared how having a bad race can make you a better athlete.

The post started…

Not every race can go to plan. Sometimes you just you have a bad day, things go wrong or you feel like sh*t.

I must have had a crystal ball in front of me because each of those things held true for me in the Singapore Half Marathon on 3 Dec.

Am I surprised?


With a growing business and a young family, training has not been a priority and I lined up in no shape to run well.

I thought I would get my execution right, but even that fell short.

In the hope that I (and you) learn from my experience, the rest of this post is an honest reflection of what went well and what didn’t.

The Good


Singapore is hot and humid so I was very conscious of starting the race fully hydrated. I managed to do this and I started the race in a well-hydrated condition.


I arrived at the venue at the right time, with little stress. I made my way to the start line and was towards the front with no runners to pass or weave through.


Because I knew I was not prepared, I had no expectation for how well I would run. This set me free to enjoy the experience and that’s exactly what I did.


Despite the fact that I suffered more than in any run I have done in a long time, I really enjoyed myself. With many Coached athletes and friends out racing, I enjoyed being on the course with them and yelling some encouragement when I picked them out of the crowd.

Body Checks

Once again, body checks worked a charm and helped to keep me in a neutral state of mind, even as the race progressed and became harder and harder.

Cut Race Times, Not Corners.

Racing at your potential and enjoying training is easy when you’re following the right programme.

The Bad

Pre-Race Recovery

In the day’s leading into a race, it is a wise idea to relax and focus on recovery so that you start the race feeling fresh.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have that luxury this time. Coached invested in a booth at the race expo and I stood for 12+ hours a day for 3 days, talking to runners.

I arrived at the start line very tired.


While I am not currently fit (relatively speaking), I have been living off of what I call residual fitness.

It’s fitness that I earned through years training full time as a professional triathlete.

Up until this point, this aerobic base has allowed me to run pretty well despite a lack of focused preparation. In this race, the lack of training finally caught up with me.

My heart and lungs were ok but the lack of muscular conditioning hit me hard (for the first time) and my pace slowed from about halfway as my legs were not conditioned to handle the pounding I was placing on them.


I thought I had my gear dialled in and would have no issues.

While I didn’t suffer anything major, I ended up with a chafed left nipple (ouch).

Despite running in my Coached tee hundreds of times, the extra weight of the race bib pulled my tee hard against my chest and caused chafing.

Post-Race Recovery

Despite running 30+ minutes slower than I could run at my best (a decade ago), my recovery took more than 2 days longer and I still had achy legs on the Thursday following the race.

In Closing

Intellectually understanding how to execute a race and actually doing it in practice are two different things. Execution is a skill that requires practice.

The more you prepare, the more aware you are of your body and the higher the chance that you’re able to execute to a high standard.

If I had done a little more training, I would have been well aware that my legs would fatigue at a much faster rate than my heart and lungs.

With this knowledge, I could have started even slower and delayed the rate at which I broke down, increasing my chance of a faster finishing time.

This is a key takeaway for me and I will do my best to prioritise training before my next half marathon so that I can run better and suffer less.

I hope your race went better than mine.

Merry XMAS everyone!

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Ben Pulham

Ben Pulham is the founder of Coached, a personalised training programme that helps runners & triathletes optimise, track and enjoy their training.